Like running through my pre-theater ritual — the one where I check all the compartments of my purse three times to make sure I have my tickets — right before I take my dog, India, out for her nightly walk, I perform a routine.
I put on her pink harness and watch her walk in a few tight circles in my living room before heading towards the door.
I check my front left pocket to make sure I have my house keys. Then I stuff my back right pocket with a plastic bag or two (usually saved from a grocery trip, or I take one of the New York Times sleeves a friend saves for me).
I make sure my cell phone is in my back left pocket. It’s equipped with the perfect flashlight, one with a narrow beam and adequate candlepower for supporting me in picking up the by-product of all the kibbles my pooch consumes.
Just the other night, I must have failed to complete my ritual. After going down the front stairs and hearing my building’s front door click locked behind me, I took a few steps along the parkway and realized my right back pocket was empty.
Oh no. I forgot poop bags!
India had already lowered herself near a familiar tree to pee and was eager to enjoy the rest of our walk and, honestly, I didn’t want to go back up to my place; to trudge back upstairs and get a bag.
But I don’t want to be an inconsiderate neighbor, either. I contemplated whether I could feel okay with myself if I was a little lax on my cleanup responsibilities in the moment and came back to the spot India decided to use as her toilet during tomorrow morning’s walk and clean up then.
Then I thought…
What if an unsuspecting person, walking through the grass en route to their front door, soiled their shoes?
I contemplated going to the back of my building where I park my car. Maybe I’d find an extra plastic bag in my trunk. I didn’t want to have to go back up the stairs. I just wanted a plastic bag.
As I turned the corner, thinking I might walk through my alley, to my parking spot and rummage through my car, my eyes focused on a dark brown object on a walkway leading up to an apartment building. I decided on a closer inspection.
It turned out to be a thin poly film shopping bag, the kind you’d see at a bookstore or card shop. It was beginning to split to the side of one handle, but, I decided, it could certainly scoop up a small load (one of the advantages of having a smallish dog) and be tied off securely before tossing it in a nearby garbage can.
I know that an argument could be made for not using bags made out of plastic, but just then, upon finding one in my path, I thought PERFECT.
As a I picked up the chocolate colored bag, I noticed a few words were printed on the front –- in pseudo-fancy script, in a cheap looking gold. It said, Thank You for Shopping With Us. The first words I saw were THANK YOU.
What were the odds — that I’d find the exact thing I was looking for only a few feet from holding this thought — and that object expressed the gratitude I felt?
My mind recalled examples of times when I experienced this phenomena; times when I found the exact change at the register while the checkout line waited behind me, or times when I made a recipe and had just enough flour or butter to make the recipe.
I marvel anytime I seem to have EXACTLY what is needed in a situation. (More often than not.)
I often want to SEE SIGNS, to imagine that my experiences reflect some greater force at work. Then sometimes, I’ll remember that the universe is always sending little gifts, little reminders of things to pay attention to.
Knowing that all events have meaning without attaching any undue significance to any single one is no small thing.